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Ten More Brain Farts

Regina Spektor – Far

I like Regina Spektor, and this is a very strong album, indeed. This one feels like it has more energy, as though the band was in a great place when it was made. Nice. It’s fun, thought-provoking, powerful and alive. By that report, then, it’s more of the same from this talented musician. Highly recommended.

Wilco – (The Album)

Over time, I have found myself going back and forth in how I felt about Wilco. Given the day I’m listening to them, they are either the coolest or the most boring thing I’ve heard. I’m not a slobbering must-have-everything fan, but when they are hitting their high points, there are few bands that can reach their level. To this day, I still believe their record Being There was a masterpiece. Now, this latest record is a smattering of the band’s best and weakest attributes. Take that to mean what you will. Their fans will scour its every note and word for meaning, of course. There’s enough here for me to like, but I probably won’t be playing it daily.

Art Of Time Ensemble – Black Flowers

OK, so opening (and closing) with Leonard Cohen covers is a great way to get my attention. Too bad there’s only one person who can credibly do Leonard songs (and that’s Leonard, folks, so get over it already). The rest of this record wants to be played late in a candle-lit night, over a nice glass of wine, maybe in the background of a good conversation where it won’t be too intrusive.

Moby – Wait For Me

Man, I don’t know why I bothered. I have never liked Moby. He had his hits, and even claims to have been a punk back in the day, but every song I ever heard of his was either a sacrilegious sample of some old blues song or a comparable waste of time, repetitive and trite, which didn’t make me want to listen to any more. Trouble was, he was everywhere for a while, there. Sigh. This record failed to move me at all because it’s just more of the same only quieter. It’s like he was scared to make a sound at all, each song sort of tip-toes past and tries not to bother you. I wish it had succeeded.

Hank Williams, Jr. – 127 Rose Avenue

This has some verve. With just enough of a twang, here we have that New Country fascination with rawk that blurs the line and makes everything sound the same. That said, the highlights are the acoustic-driven slower tracks, when his clear, strong voice is in the center of things. The track ‘Red, White & Pink-Slip Blues’ is a damning look at American recession these days, and he even covers his daddy, too. For the offspring of a legend, this ain’t bad.

Gin Blossoms – Outside Looking In: The Best Of The Gin Blossoms

I find myself listening to a lot of this band, and often, too. These are smart, tight songs, and on this one all the hits (of course), are here. The band is smokin’, the lyrics and arrangements are perfect, and if you aren’t tapping your feet and singing along by two songs in you probably don’t have a pulse at all. This band should have been a lot bigger for a lot longer than they were/are. They totally deserve it. I wish I ran a record label. I’d sign ’em in a heartbeat and promote the hell out of ’em.

Covered – A Revolution In Sound

This is a 50th anniversary release for Warner Brothers, all incestuous cover songs. I’ve just gotta go through this one track by track…

Mastodon (f. Billy Gibbons) rip up ZZ Top’s ‘Just Got Paid’ with the right amount of balls, the Black Keys fuzz-out on Captain Beefheart’s ‘Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles’ although it kind of drags by the end, and then Michelle Branch does her Lite Fm wanker-thing to Joni Mitchell’s classic ‘A Case Of You.’

Against Me! break out the acoustic guitars and unfortunately take on the Replacements’ ‘Here Comes A Regular,’ Missy Higgins does the same thing to Roxy Music’s ‘More Than This’ (which was really, really disappointing and boring), and James Otto (who the hell IS James Otto, anyway?) give Van Morrison’s ‘Into The Mystic’ the same treatment. Man, what a three-song energy-sucker.

Things get weird when Adam Sandler takes on Neil Young’s ‘Like A Hurricane.’ It doesn’t even sound like him, and if it IS him, he’s trying WAY too hard to put that Neil twist on the vocals. Yawn. Taking Back Sunday steps up next with their peppy spin on Tom Petty’s ‘You Wreck Me,’ which works mostly, though it’s pretty close to the original, so why bother? And then The Used fuck up the Talking Heads’ ‘Burning Down The House’ in the way only that new wave of emo-whatever-label-they-give-themselves weirdo fucks could imagine it needs to be done. Yeesh. That was a bad song to begin with, you know, but this? Hahaha. Yuck.

The Disturbed give us Faith No More’s ‘Midlife Crisis’ with a heavier edge and more of that 90’s nu-metal thing than did the original. Then Avenged Sevenfold gives a straight-on (if a little faster) cover of Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid.’ I mean, yet again – why bother? And lastly, improbably, the Flaming Lips break out their Casio keyboards and mess with Madonna’s ‘Borderline’ as only they could do it. Imagine some plushophiles dancing in the background as the falsetto vocals wail and you’ll be all good.

All in all, the originals are better, but the label must have felt they had to do something to mark the occasion and, truthfully, you totally could spend a worse hour of your life in many, many ways worse than this.

Black Snake Moan Soundtrack

This was a messed-up movie I wouldn’t recommend. I liked Christina Ricci as a nympho (of course), but I have never liked Samuel L. Jackass. He just seems to be reprising his Pulp Fiction role ad nauseum (yawn). The music from the soundtrack, though, is entirely pleasing to the part of me that loves the blues very very much. There’s all kinds of greatness here, even some talking from Son House and, of course, four Samuel L. tracks too, in case you yourself can’t get enough of the man. Skip those tracks and there’s some gems here.

Getting Ready For September 20

THIS makes me so entirely happy! I love this band. Oh man. James sent me this from somewhere on the ‘Net and I’ve just pasted it verbatim. Imagine my glee!! …

“Pearl Jam have revealed the track listing for Backspacer, their upcoming ninth studio album.

The 11-track follow-up to the band’s 2006 self-titled album will be released on Sept. 20 (a Sunday) in the United States and will come out two days later in Canada. Singer/guitarist Eddie Vedder premiered three of the disc’s tracks on his recent solo U.S. tour. A clip of first single “The Fixer” premiered during the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, according to Billboard.com.

You can pre-order Backspacer in CD and vinyl formats on Pearl Jam’s website, and you can also order a seven-inch single for “The Fixer.”

Pearl Jam will support Backspacer at these shows:

Aug. 8 Calgary, AB @ Canada Olympic Park (Virgin Festival Alberta)
Aug. 13 Rotterdam, Netherlands @ Sportspaleis Ahoy
Aug. 15 Berlin, Germany @ Wuhlheide
Aug. 17 Manchester, England @ Manchester Evening News Arena
Aug. 18 London, England @ O2 Arena
Aug. 21 Toronto, ON @ Molson Amphitheatre
Aug. 23-24 Chicago, IL @ United Center
Aug. 28 San Francisco, CA @ Golden Gate Park (Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival)
Sept. 21-22 Seattle, WA @ Key Arena at Seattle Center
Sept. 30-Oct. 1 Universal City, CA @ Gibson Amphitheater
Oct. 4 Austin, TX @ Zilker Park (Austin City Limits Music Festival)
Oct. 6-7 Universal City, CA @ Gibson Amphitheater
Oct. 9 San Diego, CA @ Viejas Arena
Oct. 28, 30 Philadelphia, CA @ First Union Spectrum Arena

Here are the tracks on Backspacer:

“Gonna See My Friend”
“Got Some”
“The Fixer”
“Johnny Guitar”
“Just Breathe”
“Amongst The Waves”
“Unthought Known”
“Supersonic”
“Speed Of Sound”
“Force Of Nature”
“The End”

Yeah baby!!! I can’t wait!!!

Street Sweeper Social Club – Street Sweeper Social Club

Tom Morello knows how to fling riffs into your brain in a pummeling way. Sure, it still totally sounds like a master class in that template of 90’s rap-rock of RatM, but that’s because he was the spine of that sound and it’s what he does best. Boots Riley keeps up with a voice way less nasal-sounding than Zach’s, which is cool. This is a strong effort, and the only way to play it properly is at top volume. Call this the Rage album that should have been.

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